The Newgate Calendar - Supplement 3

The Newgate Calendar - CAPTAIN URATZ


Highwayman and murderer, who argued with the divine under the gallows

            THIS robber was the son of a gentleman in Pomerania. The scantiness of his fortune determined him to commence highwayman, and he had so much temerity, that he would undertake what was sufficient for six men. One day he attacked the King of Poland, the Duke of Lorrain, and their attendants, and seized as many diamonds as brought him eight thousand ducatoons, besides a considerable quantity of gold. He also continued his depredations in Hungary, until he acquired as much money as purchased a captain's commission in the German service.

            In this station he became acquainted with Count Koningsmark, who, being disappointed in a young lady, by the more successful addresses of Thomas Thynn, Esq., the count was so enraged, that he was resolved that nothing but the fortunate lover's life would satiate his revenge. He intimated his desire to Captain Uratz, who procured John Stern, lieutenant, and George Borosky, who way-laid Mr. Thynn in his coach, shot him with a blunderbuss, and he died in a few days.

            The murderers were apprehended, committed to Newgate, and, being tried, were sentenced to death.             While Captain Uratz was under sentence, he was visited by Dr. Herneck and Dr. Burnet. The former of these divines says, "that, putting the criminal in mind of the all-seeing eye who knew his crimes, though he concealed them from man, he said, that he had far other apprehensions of God than I had, and was confident that he would consider a gentleman according to his rank, and would not be offended, if a soldier, who lived by the sword, should revenge an affront.

            "I replied, that there was only one way to eternal happiness, and that God had made no difference between any man in that respect; and that revenge in a gentleman as well as in a peasant, was criminal in his sight; and that he would not pardon it without repentance. He asked what I meant by repentance. I replied, that it was to hate and to avoid sin. The captain replied, that though he was to live, he would always give any man as good as he brought, with many other similar expressions, that made such an unpleasant impression upon my mind, that I left him." Dr. Herneck adds, that "the last time I visited him, I said, that I hoped that he had seriously reflected upon his situation, and that he had a better sense of his character, than when I saw him last. He said he was ignorant of my meaning. I explained. He replied, that he was convinced that he was a great sinner—that he truly repented, and was confident that God had forgiven him; that he could not well understand the English divines, who pressed him to declare things contrary to truth; and he was the more surprised at this, because our church was against auricular confession. When he had finished his speech, I informed him, that he was mistaken in his sentiments concerning the Church of England, who neither revealed private confessions, nor obliged offenders to confess contrary to the truth; that the confession he was exhorted to, was a public confession of a public offence; and I farther informed him, that the blood of Christ was only applied to the penitent, and that true repentance must discover itself in meekness, humility, tender-heartedness, compassion, righteousness, candid confession, and reparation, in so far as in our power, as, notwithstanding the blood of Christ, men might drop into hell. Upon this he replied, that he did not fear hell. I answered, that probably he did not believe in any, or it might be an easy one of his own making. He said, he was not such a fool as to believe that souls could fry in material fire, or be roasted as meat upon a great hearth, or in a kitchen, pointing to the chimney. He believed, that the punishment of the wicked consisted in deprivation from the presence of God; upon which deprivation, there arose a terror and anguish in their minds, because they had missed so great a happiness. He added, that possibly I might think him an Atheist; but he was so far from that, that he could scarcely suppose that there was a man so sottish in the world, as not to believe in the being of a God, gracious, just, and generous to his creatures; nor could any man, who was not either mad or drunk, believe that things came fortuitously, or that this world was governed by chance. I said, that I was glad to find him settled in the reasonableness of that principle; and for material fire, I would not quarrel with him for denying it, but rather supposed, that the fire and brimstone spoken of in Scripture, were emblems of those inward terrors which would gnaw and tear the consciences of impenitent sinners; but still, this was a greater punishment than material fire, and that this punishment he had reason to fear, without a sincere repentance. I was once in doubt whether I should publish his answers, as some of them approach to profaneness; but I have done it in hopes that these may be a warning, to prevent others from running into the same erroneous sentiments. He seemed to be carried away with false conceptions of honour and bravery, and to view God as some generous but partial prince, who would regard men's rank and quality, and make great allowances for breeding and education." Doctor Burnet has also recorded the substance of his conversations with him. Among other things the doctor says, "when I saw him at the place of execution he smiled, and before I spoke to him, said, "that I should see that it was not a false bravery, but that he was fearless to the last" I wished him to consider well upon what he grounded his confidence. He said, that he was sure to be received into heaven, and that his sins were forgiven. I asked him if he had anything to say to the people. He said, no. After he had whispered a little to a gentleman, he was willing that the rope should be tied to the gibbet. He called for the German minister, who could not get near for the crowd.

            "He desired me to pray in French, but I told him, that, as he understood English, I would pray in that language. I observed that he had some touches in his mind, when I offered up that petition, that for the sake of the blood of Christ, the innocent blood shed in that place might be forgiven, and that the cry of the one for mercy, might prevail over the cry of the other for justice. At these words, he looked up to heaven with the greatest fervour I had at any time observed him. After prayer he said nothing, but that he was now going to be happy with God." He continued in his undaunted manner, looking up often to heaven, and sometimes round upon the spectators. After he and his two fellow-sufferers had stood about half an hour under the gibbet, they were asked to give the signal; so in a little time the cart was driven forward. His fellow sufferers were also grave and penitent.

Prev Next

Back to Introduction